By Steve Graf
Each year during the months of October and November, anglers sit down and look at all the different schedules for the many bass tournament trails that exist. There are so many circuits today that fishermen have to choose what they are going pursue the next year. Anglers today are pulled in so many different directions that it’s almost impossible to fish everything going on. You have a great selection of team circuits (two anglers in a boat) like Bass Champs, The Texas Tournament Trail and now the Pro Texas Team Trail. The other pro/am tours that are on an angler’s radar for the next season, include the ABA (American Bass Anglers) Open Series, The ABA Solo Top 150, Major League Fishing BFL (Bass Fishing League) and the MLF’s Toyota Series. Each of these has a consistent following and each represent different levels of fishing competition. Many of the same anglers follow at least two of these and a few follows three. The Toyota Series is the best of the best and has some anglers actually make a living following this circuit.
For me, at some point in my career, I have followed each of these, but the two that I focus on now are with American Bass Anglers (ABA). For the last few years, I have fished the Open Series and now the new Solo Top 150 that started this year. The ABA Tour has what they call the Ray Scott National Championship. This is, and continues to be, a great event with anywhere from 175 to 200 pros and co-anglers from all over the country. I have qualified for this event 5 of the last 6 years including next year’s 2022 at Lake Eufaula. ABA does a great job of keeping the cost down on all their tours while trying to accommodate the weekend warriors (working man). Their new Solo 150 Pro Tour is a prime example of that with a $600 entry fee for a two-day event with the chance to win $20,000 dollars. No other circuit offers a better payback than ABA does.
For me, it’s been the tale of two seasons. The first half of the year was not anything special, but I kept myself in contention with hopes of a better second half. At one point, I thought that my season was doomed. But I had a strong finish in the last two ABA Open Series events with a 2nd place finish at Sam Rayburn and a 7th place finish at the ABA Two-Day Championship on Lake Texoma. This landed me a 5th place overall in the Angler of the Year standing for 2021 and qualified me for the Ray Scott National Championship at Lake Eufaula Alabama. This is an event I’m really looking forward to next April!
I’m still currently fishing the new TTO Pro Team Tour with one more event left for 2021 at Lake Sam Rayburn on November 20th & 21st. Even though my tournaments are coming to an end, I will use this time to experiment and learn new techniques or maybe get better at finesse fishing. But one thing is for certain, I do not worry about winterizing my boat as I continue to fish all through the winter months and prepare for 2022. So, this fall, enjoy the fall feeding frenzy and get ready for some of the best bass fishing action of the year! Good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!